GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The No. 16 Florida volleyball team continued its momentum from earlier in the day when they swept Georgia Southern, defeating Florida Gulf Coast in three sets in the nightcap on Friday.
Florida took the highly-contested first set 25-23, then followed with a 25-19 victory in the second frame. The Gators clinched the match in decisive fashion in the third frame, winning 25-13 to move to 5-2 on the year.
Marina Markova led the Gators' offense on Friday night, coming up with 12 kills. Bre Kelley (.385) and AC Fitzpatrick (.538) each pitched in seven kills of their own, while Birdie Hendrickson tallied a career-high six kills in the match.
Alexis Stucky dished out 35 helpers on the night, leading the team to a .255 clip in the match.
As a team, Florida held the Eagles to just a .110 clip in the three-set match, tallying 9.0 blocks. Kelley led the way with five blocks at the net, followed by four apiece from Gabrielle Essix and Stucky.
Elli McKissock posted a 15-dig performance on Friday night, moving her into 25th place in the Florida record books with 892 digs. Trinity Adams pitched in seven digs of her own, while Stucky (5) and Emily Canaan (4) combined for nine digs in the match. The Gators totaled five aces behind the service line, led by two from Adams and Stucky.
Florida closes out the Sunshine Invitational on Saturday against the VCU Rams. First serve is slated for 4 p.m. in Exactech Arena and the match will be streamed on SEC Network +.
No. 16 Florida (5-2)
How It Happened
- The first set was a back-and-forth battle for both squads, with neither team holding more than a one-point advantage through the middle of the frame. Florida Gulf Coast took the 15-14 lead into the media timeout and out of the break, the teams continued to trade points. Florida put together a quick 2-0 run to grab its first lead since the 14-13 mark, but the Eagles responded, knotting the frame at 19-19. UF was able to swing the momentum in its direction, taking the 23-20 lead to force the second FGCU timeout of the set. Coming out of that break, the Gators' lead diminished to just one at the 23-22 mark, causing Florida to take its first timeout of the set. After the timeout, Markova notched two kills in the final three points to secure the 25-23 victory for Florida. UF hit .387 in the first frame, led by six kills from Markova. Essix added three kills of her own, while three Gators each pitched in two kills to clinch the set.
- Florida held the early 9-6 lead in the second set, but the Eagles fought back with a 4-0 run to grab the 10-9 advantage. The Gators answered the call, stringing together a run of their own to take the 17-12 lead midway through the frame. Florida Gulf Coast pulled to within two at the 17-15 mark to force a Florida timeout, but the Gators held on and closed out the set with an 8-4 run to take the 2-0 advantage in the match. Florida held the Eagles to just a .086 hitting efficiency in the second frame, while UF's offense was paced by a five-kill performance from Fitzpatrick.
- With the third set tied 5-5, the Gators put their mark on the frame, pulling ahead four at the 12-8 mark. Florida continued to roll thanks to back-to-back service aces from Stucky to give Florida the six-point advantage at 15-9. The Eagles pulled back to within five at 17-12, but Florida closed out the match with an 8-1 run thanks in part to a 6-0 service run by Hendrickson to win 25-13. In the final frame, the Gators held the Eagles to a -.129 clip and Florida tallied four blocks to win the match. Kelley posted a team-high three blocks in the final set.
- Birdie Hendrickson registered a career-high six kills in the match, surpassing her previous best of four that she set earlier Friday morning
- With her 15 digs tonight, Elli McKissock now ranks 25th in program history with 892 digs
- The Gators are now 3-0 against the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles in the all-time series
- UF improves to 3-0 in three-set matches against FGCU
- The Gators are 2-0 against the Eagles in Gainesville, Fla.
- Florida is now 3-0 in three-set matches during the 2022 campaign
Thoughts from Coach Wise
- "This is as proud as I've been of a group this early in the preseason. To play a lineup on the fly against a very good Florida Gulf Coast team that has a chance to be in the tournament again this year - again, I am just so proud of this group."
- The Gators close out the Sunshine Invitational on Saturday at 4 p.m. against VCU
- The match will stream on SEC Network + and can be heard on FloridaGators.com/watch
- Any fan with a valid Florida vs. Kentucky football ticket can enter the Stephen C. O'Connell Center for free to watch the Gators prior to kickoff